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Diplomats’ memoirs and memorabilia are generally already known to the public, long and full of commonplaces and platitudes. In addition, still bound by official secrecy after they retirement, ambassadors tend to only mention in their autobiography elements that are already known to the general public, putting them sometimes with talent, but without revealing facts that shed light on current events or events or history.
This is not the case with “Diplomatic passport – Forty years at the Quai d’Orsay” (Grasset, 2019), a beautiful and fascinating evocation of a profession exercised with passion written by French ambassador Gérard Araud. He notably served his country at NATO, Israel and the UN Security Council as head of France’s permanent mission to the United Nations in New York, as well as occupying important positions at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The pinnacle of Gérard Araud’s diplomatic career, however, was his posting as Ambassador to the United States of America, which he held from July 2014 to June 2019.
This book is a living essay filled with anecdotes shedding light on a precise analysis of the diplomatic profession in which Gérard Araud, now a consultant for the French channel BFM TV and adviser to other communication companies, takes us behind the scenes of French diplomacy, one of the most dense and important networks in today’s world.
Offering a subtle account of the work of a diplomat, “this strange profession whose primary objective is to gain the other’s trust, whether an official or a journalist”, French Ambassador Gérard Araud, close to Emmanuel Macron, also tells in his book about his career at the Quai d’Orsay. His moment of global fame would come in November 2016, during the election of Donald Trump which left him incredulous. He tweeted: “After Brexit and this election, anything is now possible. A world is crumbling before our eyes”. Although his statement shocked in the United States and in France, where some even asked for his resignation, he remained at his posting in Washington, the most prestigious in his diplomatic career. In this tight and brilliant book, we discover other elements which outline the profile of a top notch contemporary diplomat which could serve as a reference for the younger generations.
Gérard Araud, Diplomatic passport, forty years at the Quai’Orsay, Grasset 2019